15 digital health start-ups are pitching ideas for wearable tech and apps as part of a week-long “pit stop” programme arranged by a new technology and innovation centre.

The Digital Health Pit Stop event has been organised by the Digital Catapult Centre, part of the Catapult project funded by Innovate UK to establish a range of technology and innovation centres for UK businesses, scientists and engineers. 

The digital health event, held in Kings Cross this week, has included a number of one-on-one sessions with experts on design, capital enterprise, healthcare and cybersecurity for companies working in digital health.

Marko Balabanovic, innovation director at the Digital Catapult Centre, told EHI the purpose of the centre is to “accelerate” start-ups and other projects to encourage commercial success while making the best use of the existing UK research base.

“We’re very much focussed on data innovation: people have more devices, there are more sensors whether you’re in cities, people’s houses or industrial environments, and that means there’s a lot of data creating economic opportunities for people to work on things.”

Balabanovic said digital health’s appeal as the first official event for the centre is due to the difficulties that start-ups in the sector may face due to its complexity, and the chance to open up new marketplaces in the “vibrant” field.

“It will never be the case that everyone’s health records are open, they’ll be closed, but there are opportunities there to take advantage of some data and analytics and open things up in a trusted way.”

He said start-ups wanting to get their products into the NHS face distinct obstacles, including dealing with procurement processes and building clinical evidence.

A psychiatrist from the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust spoke to the start-ups about working on the myhealthlocker personal health records project, giving “quite pragmatic advice” about how to work with the NHS.

Balabanovic said start-ups taking part in the event include a company developing non-contact vital signs technology and another developing a clinical noting solution for mobile devices.

“It’s a very inspiring group, and I think the wonderful thing is that I want them all to succeed because they’re improving people’s lives.”

The companies will pitch their products at an event today, with a keynote talk from Professor Zen Chu of MIT, founding CEO of 3 healthcare companies and MIT Hacking Medicine, and a panel of judges awarding prizes for the most innovative companies.